Like most of us, David scanned the news when he woke up. No, he did not have the internet. He did not have FOX or CNN. David did not even have a newspaper. His only means of getting news was word of mouth. One morning, as he was preparing for his day, he received some tough news. Scholars debate the precise event, but many feel it could have been one of two scenarios.
First, this might have been written in response to the treachery and murderous acts of Doeg (1 Samuel 22). Doeg betrayed David when he was on the run from Saul and wound up slaughtering eighty-five priests and the entire town of Nob. Reading the account of his actions sounds much like the horrible atrocities of the Nazis and Japanese in WWII. When David was informed, his words disclose his true heart.
…. I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house (1 Samuel 22:22).
Another possibility to which scholars point is the betrayal of Ahithophel which took place in the rebellion of Absalom (2 Samuel 16). The sordid details of the rebellion and the shocking sexual lewdness of the passage point to the utter carnality and betrayal of Ahithophel. No doubt, David was continually haunted by the fact his sin had brought about this entire nightmare (2 Samuel 12:9-12).
Whatever the particular event, one morning, early in the day, David was hit with some bad news. He was upset and disheartened. In fact, he was so distraught, all he could initially summon was a “sigh” (Psalm 5:1). That is what the word “meditation” means. The Hebrew term means a dull tone or a low sound. All David could muster in that moment was a whimper before God.
The beauty of our God is found here. He hears even the slightest exhaling of a weakened man’s cry! When you are overwhelmed, when life piles on, our Master is so tuned into our weakness that even our inarticulate, incomplete, sometimes incoherent exasperations reach the throne and are clearly understood!
David unpacks his thoughts by describing two types of people in the remainder of this song. He describes the DISSIDENT, the man who refuses to follow after the Lord. This lifestyle is summarized by one word, “rebel” (Psalm 5:10). The rebel is boastful, is so totally unconcerned with shedding innocent blood and using deception to cover his tracks, he is shockingly stone hearted toward those he kills. Of course, this individual is so oratorically skilled, the slaughter of the innocents is explained and swallowed hook, line, and sinker…to borrow an old expression…by those he seeks to deceive. If this sounds familiar, it is because this same playbook is used in our nation to cover up the slaughter of the innocents by those possessed with the same passion as Doeg and Ahithophel.
The second person David describes is the DEPENDENT. These are those who realize their complete inability to walk with God apart from His assistance. The dependent come into the house of God and fall down before Him (Psalm 5:7 uses a word meaning to fall before God as worship). The dependent are not just performers before the crowd at church. They live lives committed to biblical righteousness. They seek to discover and follow the “straight and narrow way” (Psalm 5:8, Matthew 7:13-14).
Does the DISSIDENT seem more populous in our day than the DEPENDENT? Probably so. Yet that does not change the results which come from deciding to follow the lesser used path. Make no mistake, there are penalties for refusing to align with the DISSIDENT. You will not be part of the inner circle with Ahithophel and Doeg might even attack you. That’s okay. The DEPENDENT have a few things going for them which outweighs any attack. om the other side.
The DEPENDENT have a God who pulls close. So close, in fact, that even the indiscernible “sigh” is clearly heard. When you cannot articulate how you feel, when you are so exasperated all you can do is exhale in vexation, your God clearly hears and notes your passion.
The DEPENDENT also have a God who will protect (Psalm 5:11). Literally, God “covers” those who fall before Him. There is not room to print it here, so read Psalm 91 if you want some powerful promises in this vein.
The DEPENDENT have a God who will prefer them (Psalm 5:12). He will bless the dependent while opposing the dissident. The dissident will not walk along with God (Psalm 5:5), while the dependent experience His continued blessing (Psalm 5:12).
Surrounded by His favor (Psalm 5:12) or sent away from His presence (Psalm 5:5)? It all depends on the choices we make.
If life has delivered tough news and you do not know how to articulate your pain, simply sigh in His direction. He’s listening. He is looking for those who will dare to declare their dependence on Him.